Rights Abusers at UN Oppose ‘Country-Specific’ Resolutions – Unless They Target Israel

By Patrick Goodenough | December 17, 2020 | 4:15am EST
Tibetans protest against Chinese policies outside the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)
Tibetans protest against Chinese policies outside the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – Having supported more than a dozen U.N. General Assembly resolutions condemning Israel in the past two weeks, the representatives of some of the world’s most egregious rights-abusing regimes complained on Wednesday about “country-specific” resolutions targeting some among their own ranks – Iran, Russia, North Korea, and the Assad regime – saying they violate the cherished U.N. principles of “objectivity, non-selectivity, and impartiality.”

Among the most outspoken critics during Wednesday’s plenary session in New York were the delegates from China and Cuba, governments whose widely-documented human rights abuses at home have attracted not a single General Assembly resolution this year.

At the meeting, the assembly considered texts from its Third Committee – which deals with social, cultural, and humanitarian issues – including country-specific resolutions relating to the human rights situations in Iran, Syria, North Korea, and the Russian-occupied Crimea peninsula of Ukraine.

All four passed, but with sizeable numbers of “no” votes, and large numbers of abstentions:

-- The Iran resolution passed by 82 votes to 30, with 64 abstentions

-- The Syria resolution passed by 101 votes to 13, with 62 abstentions

-- The Crimea resolution passed by 64 votes to 23, with 86 abstentions

-- The North Korea resolution passed without a recorded vote (although several countries – including China, Iran and Cuba – then disassociated themselves from the “consensus.”)

The countries that voted “no” in all three of the recorded votes were Belarus, Burundi, China, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea, Philippines, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. Of those 12 countries, all are graded “not free” this year by the Washington-based Freedom House except for Philippines and Zimbabwe, which are ranked “partly free.”

Eritrea, India, Lebanon, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam were among those that voted “no” in at least one of the three recorded votes.

“We object to politicization, selectivity, double standards, and the confrontational approach,” said the Chinese representative. “We are against the practice of pressurizing other countries in the name of human rights. We oppose country-specific human rights resolutions.”

“We will not be accomplices to an attempt to deny the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea their right to peace, self-determination and development,” said the Cuban delegate. He was responding to a text that expressed deep concern “at the grave human rights situation, the pervasive culture of impunity and the lack of accountability for human rights violations and abuses” in North Korea.

Iran’s representative voiced dismay that “once again international instruments have been distorted for use as tools in the pursuit of political agendas by certain member-states that are well-known for their efforts to undermine multilateralism.”

He complained about discrimination and “double standards.”

By the end of December, the General Assembly will have adopted 18 resolutions that condemn Israel, directly or indirectly. Fifteen have already passed, in votes on Dec. 2, 7, 10, 11 and 16. Three votes are yet to come.

All 15 Israel-focused votes adopted thus far passed by large majorities, typically with 150 or more “yes” votes in the 193-member assembly. (The “best” outcome for Israel was a resolution that passed by 76-14, with 83 abstentions.) The U.S. joined Israel in voting “no” in all 15 votes, joined in many cases by Canada and Australia.

‘Undue and false praise’

Commenting on the Iran resolution passed on Wednesday, U.N. Watch executive director Hillel Neuer observed that even though the text does call out the regime’s rights abuses it also offers what he called “undue and false praise” in a number of areas.

One paragraph “welcomes the commitments made by the Iranian authorities with regard to improving the situation of women,” while another commends Iran’s “reduction in number of executions,” he noted.

And a third “welcomes the engagement” of Iran with various U.N. human rights bodies – even though, Neuer pointed out, the regime has denied entry to the Human Rights Council-appointed special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, “for a decade.”

Neuer said the General Assembly has now concluded its annual examination of country-specific situations, “without adopting a single resolution on China’s gross and systematic violation of human rights.”

“In October, this same body absurdly elected China’s communist regime to the Human Rights Council, which it will formally join as a voting member beginning January 1st.”

The 30 countries that backed Iran in Wednesday’s vote were:  Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bolivia, Brunei, Burundi, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Eritrea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Nicaragua, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.

The 13 supporting the Assad regime were:  Algeria, Belarus, Burundi, China, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea, Russia, Syria, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

The 23 that supported Russia in Crimea were:  Angola, Armenia, Belarus, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, China, Comoros, Cuba, Eritrea, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nicaragua, North Korea, Philippines, Russia, Serbia, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

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